Category Archives: Bible Geography


Ur was the native home of the Abraham family (Gen. 11:28). Before his father, Terah, passed away, his brother Haran died there and left his son, Lot, in the charge of his father and his brother, Abram. Terah also had another son named Nahor. Nahor evidently, for some reason, stayed behind in Mesopotamia while Abram and Terah and Lot left on a journey to the promised land. Terah also had a daughter named Sarai, but by a woman other than Abraham’s mother (Gen. 20:12) and Sarai became Abram’s wife (Gen. 11:28).

Ur was an ancient city whose establishment dates back into the years following the flood. The name Ur means light or flame. The exact location of this city has long been debated. Some place it in the north near Haran in what would be modern day Turkey and others place it in the south near the gulf at Tell el-Muqayyar. The view of the southern Ur gained prominence after Sir Leonard Wooley excavated the site and declared it was “worthy of Abraham.” His truly sensational discoveries at this site captivated the public imagination through the influence of popular media and it has since been commonly accepted as Abraham’s home.

However, even before Wooley made his discoveries, the northern location was one that was widely accepted. Cyrus H. Gordon, who excavated the southern Ur with Wooley, did not share Wooley’s belief that this was Abraham’s home, the Ur of the Chaldees mentioned in the Bible. He maintained on other grounds that the northen site was a better fit with the biblical evidence. But because of the popular media’s acceptance of Wooley’s sensational finds, Gordon’s views were largely ignored.

The site in the north, Ura, now known as Urfa (officially Sanliurfa), has many arguments in its favor. First, Joshua says that Ur was on the other side of the river (i.e., the Euphrates – Josh. 24:2, 15). This is true of Ura, but it is not true of Tell el-Muqayyar which was on the west side of the Eurphrates river.

Second, if Tell el-Muqayyar was Abraham’s home, when God called him to go into the land of Canaan, why did he go out of his way into Haran, when there were shorter routes to the promised land? He could have crossed over at the Mari trade route to Palmyra and then over to the king’s Highway and made it to the promised land much more quickly? Why go to Haran, which was very much out of the way to his destination? He would have “had to make a sharp right turn at the Balik River and travel many miles upstream to reach Haran. That makes little sense” (Have we erred on Ur? by Tony W. Cartledge, Jan 6, 2020).

Third, when Abraham was intent on finding a bride for Isaac, he sent his servant to “my country, and to my kindred” (Gen. 24:4). Abraham explained to his servant that God had called him from his father’s house and from the land of his kindred (Gen. 24:7). Where did he go? He went to the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia (Gen. 24:10), or literally, Aram-Naharaim, Aram of the two rivers. The city of Nahor is understood to be Haran (Gen. 11:31, 27:43, 29:1, 4, 5). While Nahor stayed behind when Abraham and Terah left Ur, he apparently either went with them to Haran or followed later to that site, perhaps when Terah died because Haran is from that time forward denominated the city of Nahor.

The word Mesopotamia generally refers to the northern area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Wickipedia states “Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent.” Notice, it is in the northern part, not in the south. Britannica states “In the narrow sense, Mesopotamia is the area between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, north or northwest of the bottleneck at Baghdad, in modern Iraq; it is Al-Jazirah (“The Island”) of the Arabs. South of this lies Babylonia, named after the city of Babylon.” Barnes states, “Aram was an extensive area, embracing not only the country west of the Frat and north of Palestine, but the northern part of Mesopotamia, or the country between the Frat and the Dijlah. The latter region is for the sake of distinction called Aram of the two rivers. It did not include the southern part of Mesopotamia, which was called Shinar Gen. 11:2, and probably extended only to the Chaboras, Khabour [a tributary to the Euphrates-ELP].” So, Mesopotamia is in the north; in the south is the land of Shinar and Babylonia. As noted earlier, Tell el-Muqayyar lies west of the Euphrates and is neither between the rivers or on the “other side”.

When Stephen gave his defense before the Council, he said, “Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran” (Acts 7:2). As we have seen, Tell el-Muqayyar, is not technically in Mesopotamia, between the rivers nor on the other side of them. But God, according to Stephen, called Abraham while he was in Mesopotamia, that is in Ur of the Chaldees. That places Ur north of Shinar and east of the Euphrates.

Fourth, it turns out that the inhabitants of the area have for centuries called this Abraham’s native home. There is a cave that is purported to be Abraham’s birthplace that is a tourist attraction. Furthermore, several cities in the area have names that are the same as those in Abraham’s family, such as Peleg, Serug, Nahor and Terah.

Commentator George Bush made the following remarks on the location of Ur:

As to the city here mentioned, some difficulty has been experienced by commentators in fixing its site, but in the East it is generally identified with the present town of Orfah in Upper Mesopotamia Two days’ journey east of the Euphrates, sixty-seven miles north-east of Beer. The Jews, according to Mr. Wolff, still call the place by the name in the text, אור כשדים Oor Kasdim, or Ur of the Chaldees, and it is a place of pilgrimage as the birth-place of Abraham, in whose honour the Moslems have a fine mosque in the court of which is a lake teeming with fish which are held sacred to the patriarch’ and not permitted to be caught.

Fifth, is it a coincidence that one of Terah’s sons was named “Haran,” the same name of the city in the north that was a merchant outpost in Abraham’s day? From tablets found in Ebla, it is known that this city was well established by Abraham’s time. Cities were very often founded by individuals and their names often borne by the city they founded (cf. Gen. 4:17). This is not to say that Haran, the city, was named after Haran, Terah’s son, or vice versa, but it does show that this name was common in the region, a name which Terah chose to call one of his sons.

Finally, there is a passage in Deuteronomy 26:5 which states that when a Jew offered the basket of first fruits he was to say “A Syrian ready to perish was my father…” describing the origins of his people in the journey of Abraham to the promised land. Notice, that he was not to describe himself as a Sumerian ready to perish, or a Babylonian or a Shinarian (from the land of Shinar), but a Syrian. Syria was undeniably in the northern region of Mesopotamia, very close to where modern Syria is today. Young’s Literal translation renders this “A perishing Aramaean is my father!…” The word translated Syrian in the KJV is אֲרַמִּי ʾarammî, or Aram. Aram was a son of Shem (Gen. 10:21). This places the home of Abraham in the north near Haran not in the south in Shinar.

Many commentators refer this to Jacob and say, though he was born in Canaan, that he spent many years in Syria under Laban. But it just seems a little odd that Jacob would be considered a “wandering” Syrian when he was born in Canaan and stayed in Syria for a length of time. But Abraham did “wander” from his homeland and went into the land of Canaan where he made his home. This is the description given of him in the Book of Hebrews:

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Jewish commentators differ as to who the “wandering Syrian” is. Some say Jacob but others say Abraham. Biblical commentator and Talmudist, Samuel ben Meir, also known as Rashbam (c. 1085-1174)…“argues that the verse more appropriately applies to Abraham, who can correctly be identified as an Aramean.” Pett’s commentary states “Their father was ‘an Aramaean (Arami)’. That is, he had come originally from Aram. Both Abraham, and then Jacob on his return to Canaan, had come from Aram to the north of Canaan.” The JFB commentary states “The ancestors of the Hebrews were nomad shepherds, either Syrians by birth as Abraham, or by long residence as Jacob.”

So it is very possible that the “wandering Syrian” refers to Abraham specifically, or at the very lest to his family in general. Either way, it is to the north that Abraham’s homeland is ascribed.

There are other evidences which could be offered but I think you can see that these make a very strong case for the northern placement of Ur.

Eric L. Padgett

Further Reading!

Land Of Shinar

As Noah’s family began to multiply and the number of descendants grew on the face of the earth after the flood, many of them began to venture forth from the region of Ararat (Armenia) and came to settle in the plain in the land of Shinar (Gen. 11:1,2). It was here that they began to build a tower to reach to heaven, because they wanted to make themselves a name, lest they be scattered abroad on the face of the whole earth (Gen. 11:3,4). This tower was later called Babel (more about that in a moment).

The name “Shinar” is apparently derived from “sheni” meaning “two” and “‘ar” or “nahar” meaning “rivers,” indicating it lies somewhere between the two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The land of Shinar is probably identical with Babylonia or Southern Mesopotamia, extending almost to the Persian Gulf. It is recorded in Daniel, that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took the vessels of the house of the Lord and brought them into the land of Shinar into the house of his god, showing that Babylon was in the plain of Shinar (Dan. 1:1,2). In Joshua 7:21, the same word is rendered “Babylonish,” referring to style of garment. Other cities besides Babylon in the area under his control were Erech, Accad and Calneh (Gen. 10:10).

Now the beginning of the kingdom of Babel was accomplished through the efforts of Nimrod (Gen. 9:9,10). Nimrod was the grandson of Ham, Cush being Nimrod’s father (Gen. 9:6-8). We are informed that Nimrod began to be a mighty man in the earth and that he was a mighty hunter before the Lord (Gen. 9:8,9). The name Nimrod comes from a Hebrew word meaning to rebel and it has the form of being not only “a rebel” but “The Rebel.” So it seems that Nimrod’s reputation was nefarious.

From this, it is not difficult to conclude that Nimrod’s rebelliousness was against the Lord. Josephus says of Nimrod that it was he who excited the people “to such an affront and contempt of God…He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power” (The Antiquities of the Jews, I:IV:2).

There are 25 known towers from the ancient near eastern world, in the area of what is now Iran and Iraq. These are built from mud bricks baked either in the sun or in a kiln because there were no great stone quarries from which to find megaliths to build these structures, as in Egypt. In the best preserved tower at Ur, which has been reconstructed somewhat on different occassions, the bottom tier is composed of some 720,000 baked bricks. Some have suggested the ruins at Etemenanki is the tower we read about in Genesis eleven.

Whether or not that tower’s remains still exist, it was on this plain of Shinar that these rebellious children attempted to build their own way to heaven. Perhaps there was a little desire on their part to avoid being destroyed by a flood again by building a tower higher than the mountains so that a flood could never reach them, as Josephus states. But the Bible explicitly states that they wanted a tower to reach to heaven so that they could make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:4). Ever since this time men have tried to build their own way to heaven, on their own terms, to make a name for themselves.

At Mt. Sinai, the children of Israel wanted to build their own god, a golden calve, and fall down to worship it, thinking they could devise their own plan of salvation. “These by thy gods O Israel..” they arrogantly claimed, “which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Ex. 32:4). Jereboam constructed two calves of gold and placed them at Dan and Bethel, perverting the place and time and priesthood of God’s ordained worship (I Kings 12). The history of Israel is a history of idolatry, as is the history of the world (Rom. 1).

Today we have men who devise their own systems of salvation, too. They build denominational towers with the half-baked bricks of false doctrine that they think can reach to heaven. Men also think they can play god themselves and try to rule over everyone else, decreeing how everyone else should live. They have delusions of granduer and want to control the sun and the food we eat and our genes. They declare that God is dead and say that they are becoming gods themselves. Arrogance. Foolishness.

But whether they know it or not the Lord will come down and confound their language and destroy their temples and their man-made gods and will embarrass their arrogant claims of power and knowledge. The Lord will have them in derision. Just like He did with the builders of the tower of Babel in the plains of Shinar.

Eric L. Padgett

The Table Of Nations

The tenth chapter of the Book of Genesis gives us an overview of how all the nations of the world began. It is often referred to as the Table of Nations for that reason. Noah was told by God to go forth from the ark with all the animals and “breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful and multiply upon the earth” (Genesis. 8:18). It was just Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives, who produced the whole human race that exists today.

Japheth is always mentioned last in the list of Noah’s sons, but it seems that he is the eldest of the children of Noah (Gen. 10:21). Japheth was two years older than his brother Shem (see Appendix 1 below). The meaning of the name of Japheth is subject to some controversy. Some see the name defined in Genesis 9:27 as wide, or enlarged. Other, however see the play off the names of Shem (possibly meaning dark) and Ham (meaning black) and see the name of Japheth to mean “fair” or “white.” Some believe that Japheth was later worshiped as Jupiter of the Romans.

Japheth had seven sons: Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. Traditionally, Gomer is associated with Cymri or the Celts or Gauls, Magog with the Scythians, Madai with the Medes or Aryans, Javan with the Ionians or Greeks, Tubal with Tibareni or Turkey, Meshech with the Moschi or later Russia, and Tiras with Thrace. Basically, Japheth’s descendants seemed to have moved westward and northward and occupied the “isles of the Gentiles” (Gen. 10:5). He was the father of Europe and some nations, like the Scots, count their beginnings from him.

Shem always heads the list of the sons of Noah. Many therefore identify Shem as the eldest. But as mentioned above, this assumption must be erroneous. But Shem may be listed first because his lineage is the focus of scripture, therefore he is given pre-eminence. Shem is given pre-eminence because his lineage produces the people from whom Messiah came, the Semites (Shemites). However, in the Table of Nations, Shem’s lineage is listed last and Japheth’s first, perhaps because in the following pages of scripture, Shem’s descendants will be the focus, and Moses wanted to end upon Shem to continue the thought.

Unto Shem were born five listed sons: Aram, Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad and Lud. Aram produced the Arameans who today are represented by Syria. The Elamites produced the Persians. Asshur gave us the Assyrians who occupied the area in modern northern Iraq. Arphaxad produced the Chaldeans in southern Iraq. To Arphaxad was born Salah who is listed as the father of Eber. Eber became the father of the Hebrews, from whom we have Abraham (Gen. 11:10-26). Abraham is central figure in both Jewish and Christian history. Finally Lud gives us the Lydians who came from the area in modern Turkey.

Finally, Ham is listed as producing four sons, Cush, Mizraim, Phut and Canaan. Cush is identified with Ethiopia. Mizraim is identified with Egypt. It is the Semitic name for Egypt. Phut is Libya and Canaan “was the ancestor of the Phœnicians and other tribes inhabiting Palestine” (People’s Dictionary of the Bible). Interestingly though, is the fact that Nimrod was the grandson of Ham, making the Babylonian empire a product of Ham’s descendants.

The name Ham means “hot” or “black.” Some take this as a reference to the black, fertile soil along the Nile and in the delta. In the Bible, Egypt is called the land of Ham (Psalm 105:23; 106:22). Apparently, Ham was the younger of the sons of Noah (Gen. 9:24). A curse was placed upon Canaan, the son of Ham, because Ham had seen the nakedness of his father (Gen. 9:20-27). The exact details of this event are somewhat obscure. The curse involved Canaan in becoming a slave of his brethren. This was all spoken prophetically of the descendants of Ham.

“The curse simply means that the descendants of Canaan were doomed to enslavement to the other two branches of the family. This destiny seemingly was reversed when Nimrod and Mizraim founded Babylonia and Egypt respectively. But it was abundantly fulfilled in early antiquity when the Canaanites in Joshua’s time were partly exterminated and partly reduced to abject slavery by the Israelites who belonged to the family of Shem, and those that remained were further reduced by Solomon (Josh. 9:23, I Kings 9:20,21). It was fulfilled later when the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Egyptians, all of whom belonged to the Line of Canaan, were reduced to subjection by the Japhetic Persians, Macedonians, and Romans. These peoples, the Canaanites included, all were obsessed with the gross sexual indulgences characteristic of the ancient Cult of Fertility, as described by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 1:18-32. It may be fulfilled too in the longstanding moral and spiritual (and cultural) backwardness of the South African peoples who perhaps more than any other have been forcibly reduced to abject slavery…” (College Press).

The Table of Nations is valuable because it gives the early history of the spreading of the family of Noah and his descendants throughout the world (Appendix 2). There are, of course, nations in the world that are left out of the Table. These nations play no immediate or essential role in the story of salvation, which is the purpose of scripture. The total number of the nations listed equal seventy, which is symbolic number signifying completeness. For example, the total number of the people recorded as going into Egypt of the house of Jacob was seventy (Gen. 46:27). We will meet many of these places again as we study through the lands of the Bible.

Eric L. Padgett

Appendix 1
1056 – Noah was born (Gen. 7:6)
1556 – Noah began to bear his children, making Japheth the first born
1558 – Shem born (Gen. 11:10)
1656 – Flood, date determined from the genealogies
1658 – Arphaxad, son of Shem born (Shem 100 years old – Gen. 11:10)
Genesis 9:24 – Ham is the youngest son of Noah

Appendix 2
“W. F. Albright comments that the Table of Nations ‘shows such a remarkably ‘modern’ understanding of the linguistic situation in the ancient world . . . that it stands absolutely alone in ancient literature, without even a remote parallel even among the Greeks, where we find the closest approach to a distribution of the peoples in genealogical framework. But among the Greeks the framework is mythological and the people are all Greeks or Aegean tribes’ (quoted by Cornfeld, AtD, 37)” (College Press).


The Mountains of Ararat

Gen 8:4 – And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat

The world before the flood was different than the world we live in today as far as its topagraphy is concerned. The antediluvian world more than likely consisted of one super land mass (Gen. 1:9,10). Science agrees with this and a quick look at the contours of the continents of the modern globe will easily convince most people that the continents were once connected. It is also possible that there was some kind of vapor canopy covering the globe, making the world a more tropical zone worldwide (Gen. 1:6,7). Though in recent years some have questioned that model, others still maintain the canopy model and it seems to fit the scriptures best.

Also, before the Flood, the Bible described the earth as possessing high hills (Gen. 7:19). It is interesting that the KJV translators chose to translate “har” as “hills” instead of “mountains”, when later they translate the word as mountains. Many creation scientists believe that the earth was less geographically diverse then and that the high mountains we now see were largely a result of the hydrolic forces of the waters covering the earth during and after the flood and tectonic movement. These high hills were covered with the flood water by fifteen cubits or something like 22 feet of water above the highest hills over all the globe.

Certain creation scientists now believe that mount Ararat, the largest of the mountains of Ararat, and the place generally believed to be the resting place of the ark, was formed after the flood because sedimentary layers that were produced by the flood are found under the formations producing the mountain. There is geologic evidence that later localized sediments were layed down between the valcanic flows that make up the plataue on which it sits. But geology is subject to various interpreatations depending, as in all of science, upon the assumptions made.

Yet, the Bible plainly says that the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4). Observe that Moses uses the plural, mountains. It is not known exactly where in this range of mountains the ark came to rest, but we believe the Bible to be accurate. Could the ark still be there somewhere? It is certainly possible. But Noah and his family may also have repurposed the wood that made up the ark to build dwellings and other structures. But it is also possible it still remains somewhere on the mountains of Ararat waiting to be found.

Many claims have been made that the ark has been found in various parts of the mountain. Somr have claimed they have brought wood back from the ark. Another sight nearby, the Drupinar sight, is also claimed to be the spot where the ark came to eventally rest.

The ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus mentions the ark in his Histories of the Jews as still being visible in the first century. He says of the place where Noah and his family came out of the ark, which is what the Armenians call “(Apobaterion) The Place of Descent; for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day” (Antiquities I:3:5). He writes that other ancient historians describe how visitors to the ark would take pieces of bitumen away to make amulets. Among those who wrote of the ark was Berosus the Chaldean, “Hieronymus the Egyptian also, who wrote the Phoenician Antiquities, and Mnaseas, and a great many more, make mention of the same” and also “Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, hath a particular relation about them” (Antiquities I:3:6). And so secular history affirms that the ark was in the region and many saw it.

The word translated Ararat is found four times in the Bible. Twice it is translated Ararat and twice it is translated Armenia. In II Kings we are told that while Sennecherib, king of Assyria, was worshiping his god Nisroch, that a man, Adrammalech, and his son, Sharezer, assasinated him with a sword. These two men then escaped into the “land of Armenia” (II Kings 19:37). “Armenia” is the same word translated Ararat in Genesis. Isaiah relates the same story (Is. 37:38). Jeremiah connects Ararat (Armenia) with Minni and Ashchenaz (Jer. 51:27) . Minni is taken to be lesser Ararat (Armenia) and Ashchenaz “is a province in the neighbourhood of Armenia. For Asken is an Armenian proper name, and az an Armenian termination” (Keil and Deliitsch).

So somewhere in this region on a mountain on the border between Turkey and Armenia the ark of Noah came to rest. The ark was not built as a sea-going vessel, but a container to rideout the turbulent waters of the flood. So most likely it didn’t travel very far. In a similar manner, the church will ride out the turbulent waters of this volatile life and we will end up in a much better place than we started.

Eric L. Padgett

The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden was not a garden named Eden, but a garden in a place called Eden. Where Eden was no one can say. It is very likely that the original garden was destroyed in the flood. Ezekiel tells us that the trees of Eden were brought down to the nether part of the earth (Ezek. 31:18). In any event, God’s judgement on man’s sin was to bar his presence in the garden by driving him out and placing cheribim with flaming swords to keep or block the entrance into the garden (Gen. 3:24). The implication seems to be that man can no longer experience this place. Our knowledge of it now must be limited to what the scriptures teach us of it.

Most translations tell us Eden was “eastward.” The King James Version translates this as saying God planted His garden “eastward in Eden” (Gen. 2:8). If this is the correct translation, then we must ask, was it that Eden was in the east and the garden was placed there or was it that the garden was placed in the east of Eden? The language is not definitive enough to discern.

There is another possibility. The word translated “eastward” is used in two ways in the scriptures. One way it is used is in reference to location. Fifty times in the Old Testament the word “mikkedem” is translated as some form of the word “east.” However, at least another thirty times it is used with reference to time (old 17, ancient 6, before 3, ancient time 2, aforetime 1, eternal 1, everlasting 1). God is from “mikkedem” or “everlasting” (Hab. 1:12). “The days of old (mikkedem)” (Micah 7:20). The wise man said “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old (mikkedem)” (Proverbs 8:22). So it is legitimate to translate this word as relating to time not to place.

Could it be that Moses was saying that God had already planted a garden “before,” i.e., when He had made the trees (the third day-Gen. 1:9-13)? Some early translations support this. Wycliffe (1394, Purvey Revision) translates mikkedem as “at the beginning.” Tyndale (1533) translated it “from the beginning.” Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translated mikkedem as “a principio” (“from the beginning”). The 1899 Douay-Rheims versions reads “And the Lord God had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning.”

So whether the garden was planted in the east or it was already planted and prepared before, the word Eden means delight. It was a garden of delights. A Paradise. The physical description of the garden is one of a lush and beautiful and luxurious place. It is referred to as the garden of God (Ezek. 31:9). Every precious stone seemed to be strewn on the ground, stones like gold, bdellium and the onyx stone (Gen. 2:12). Ezekiel says there was also sardius, topaz, diamond, jasper, sapphire and emerald and Ezekiel calls these the stones of fire (Ezek. 28:13). It must have been like seeing flashes of multi-colored fire as the sun glanced off each gem.

A lively river of the purest water this world has ever known ran out from Eden into the garden to water it. Rivers generally start from higher sources like mountain glacial formations. Whether or not they would have existed in a pre-flood environment is not known. But there were also sub-terrainian water chambers, the fountains of the great deep (Gen. 7:11), which could have supplied the source. But Ezekiel mentions that connected with the garden of God was the holy mountain of God. The garden of God was not in some low lying plain, but in a mountain, supplied by an even higher source of living water.

The rivers that are mentioned in Genesis as connected with the garden cannot be used to locate either Eden or the garden. The topography of the earth would have been completely altered by the hydrolic forces of the flood. In any event, there is no place where the rivers mentioned in Genesis all come together to fit the Biblical description. As one commentator noted, “It is impossible, however, to imagine how any of the great rivers that are mentioned in the tabular view can ever have been united in one stream” (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown). Scholars have in vain tried to fit the pieces together only to be met with abject failure, not because the Biblical descripion is faulty, but because it is just a description of something that no longer exists. The names of these old, pre-flood rivers being applied to new, post flood rivers by Noah and his descendents after they reinhabited the new world.

Every kind of tree was present in the garden. Every tree that was pleasant in sight and good for food. The beauty and grandeur of these stately and satisfying flora was emphasized again by the prophet Ezekiel when he represented the leaders of the nations as trees. When the Assyrian was held up as an example, when seen as a tree, even all the trees of Eden envied him, showing that the trees of Eden were the standard by which to judge such vegetation (Ezek. 31:9). Perhaps the Redwoods of the California Redwood Forest give us a glimpse of their grandeur. Imagine cedars, fir and chesnut trees of this magnitude making their home in the garden of Eden (Ezek. 31:8).

Of course, there were two other trees of great significance. The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of every single tree and plant man was allowed by the Lord to partake, save one, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. One tree brought life, the other death. The many lessons of these trees are for another lesson save only this, that to do what God forbids leads only to death and corruption.

It has been said there was no law in the Garden, but this is manifestly false. God put man in the Garden with a purpose. Without man there was no one to till the ground (Gen. 2:5). So God placed man in the Garden to dress it and to keep it (Gen. 2:15). God’s directive to man was to work and keep up this Garden. Furthermore, God also commanded man from taking of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:16). Even in man’s primitive, pristine, pure state, there was law to be obeyed. How much more today in the sin-cursed world.

This wondrous garden of God was man’s orginal home. Man’s every need–physical, social, moral, intellectual, spiritual–was fully met. He was in perfect fellowship with Jehovah and walked with Him in the garden among the stones of fire (Gen. 3:8). There was no shame, nothing to cause man to hide from the Lord and there was nothing to hide. Until… Until man broke faith with the Lord and violated His will. Then the world very literally began to fall apart as the force of God’s condemnation weakens the forces He put in place to sustain the world and one day, when He is ready, it shall melt with fervent heat and dissolve away with a great noise (II Pet. 3:10-12).

The old serpent subtilly entrapped man with his mortal lies. Because of sin, man was driven from his home, placed under a curse, lost his ability to grasp life, lost his innocence, lost his fellowship with God and lost his salvation. The way to Eden was blocked and no sinful mortal could ever find his way back to walking with the Lord among the stones of fire.

But all hope was not lost. We’ll speak of Paradise again.

Eric L. Padgett

A Lesson From the Hills

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).

Mountains have a fascinating allure to most everyone. The great mountain ranges of the world are as beautiful as they are dangerous. They are mysterious because, at certain elevations, the climate and terrain become formidable and, thus, their summits are often hard to reach and are often shrouded with thick mists and clouds, adding to their mystic. Many primitive cultures include stories about the “gods” living in the mountains. Think of Mount Olympus, for example. The Bible also mentions not a few mountains and hills that play an important role in the unfolding of the story of salvation.

In Genesis two we are told of the Garden of Eden. It is described as a beautiful paradise filled with precious stones, a grand river that flowed from it and every kind of tree that produced fruit that was good for food (Gen. 2:8-17). It was there that man walked with God (Gen. 3:8). However, it is in this place also that man gave in to temptation and brought sin and death into the world and were consequently thrust from its environs (Gen. 3:1-7, 16-19, 23,24; Rom. 5:12).

Though we normally think of Eden in a plain or perhaps a valley, when Ezekiel described the Garden, he associated it with the “mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:13-15). If, indeed, Eden was located on a mountain, this would explain the fact that many ancient cultures placed their gods and their paradise in the upper regions of a mountain. Because of this, when I think of Eden, I think not only of paradise, I also think of paradise lost!

The Book of Genesis also describes the generations of mankind that multiplied after man was driven from the Garden. While some men did begin to call upon the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26), generally mankind spiraled out of control into a cesspool of filth and sin (Gen. 6:5). So bad was this decline, that God repented of having created man at all and determined to cleanse the earth and start anew (Gen. 6:6,7).

One man who stood above all the rest was Noah and God chose him to build an ark and to save a remnant from destruction. After the flood waters receded, the ark of Noah came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4). From here Noah and his family descended the mountain to repopulate the new world. When I think of the mountains of Ararat I think not only of God’s judgment on a sinful world, but also the hope of salvation (I Pet. 3:21).

When God called Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, he told him that his seed would bless the whole earth (Acts 7:1,2; Gen. 12:1-3). He was given this promise at age seventy-five (Gen. 12:4). It wasn’t until a quarter century later that God fulfilled His promise and gave Abraham his promised son, Isaac (Gen. 21:5). However, God commanded Abraham to take his son unto Mount Moriah and to offer him as a sacrifice to God (Gen. 22:2).

The offering of Abraham’s only begotten son, Isaac, was a type of the offering of God’s only begotten Son–the Christ (Heb. 11:17-19). It was on this mount also that David built an altar to the Lord and later his son, Solomon, built the temple (II Sam. 24:24,25; II Chon. 3:1). When I think of Mount Moriah, then, I am reminded of the grace of God in sending His Only Begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins and of God’s Holy Temple, the church of God, in which we find salvation (Acts 2:47; I. Tim. 3:15).

When God chose Moses to lead His people out of Egyptian bondage, God led them to Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:1,2). It was on this mountain that Moses ascended and then descended with the Laws of God embodied in the Ten Commandments. When I think of Mount Sinai I am reminded of God’s law for mankind which today is the New Testament delivered to us by The Deliverer, Jesus.

Another mountain of great prominence in the Bible is Mount Zion. David originally captured Mount Zion or the stronghold of Zion from the Jebusites (II Sam. 5:6,7). Isaiah prophesied that out of it the word of the Lord would go forth (Is. 2:2,3), which is exactly what happened in the Book of Acts (Acts 2). It was out of Zion that the Deliverer would come, as well (Rom. 11:26). When Paul was describing the better nature of the New Testament and the Lord’s church, he described it as the Heavenly Jerusalem and as Mount Zion (Heb. 12:18-24).

In the Book of Revelation, John described the victorious church as standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb of God (Rev. 14:1). In the final scene of the Book of Revelation, the Heavenly Jerusalem is descending down from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:1,2). It is described as a Paradise where a river runs through from the throne of God with the waters of life and the tree of life growing on either side of it with leaves that were for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:1-3). There will no more curse there (Rev. 22:5). We will once again ascend the Mountain of God and walk in His presence amongst the stones of fire (Rev. 21:3, 10-21).

Eric L. Padgett